New License Plate Impoundment / Whiskey Plates Law

Whiskey Plates or Special Registration Plates are a requirement for drivers and vehicle owners who have been served an Order of License Plate Impoundment pursuant to DWI offenses. The Minnesota Legislature recently enacted a new law that allows for people to remove whiskey plates from their vehicles or not obtain them at all if they accomplish two things.

First, a payment of $100 needs to be made for each vehicle that is under the impoundment order. If you already paid $50 towards the whiskey plates that you have, then the DMV should give you credit for that payment towards the $100 fee. Often that means any vehicle registered in the DWI violators name and the vehicle driven at the time of the arrest. This is also a good reason to check with your local DMV to make sure that any vehicles you have sold have had their title transferred. If that vehicle and the corresponding license plates are still in your name, then you may have to pay an extra $100 for a vehicle you don’t own.

Second, the DWI violator needs to become a participant in the ignition interlock program through the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (or DMV). Ignition Interlock is a device that is installed in a vehicle (not a motorcycle or other two wheeled vehicles) that requires continual breath tests to ensure the driver has not consumed or currently consuming alcohol.

Are my whiskey plates then gone forever?

No, the requirement of whiskey plates can return under two circumstances. First, if the ignition interlock participant voluntarily or involuntarily stops participating in the program then the whiskey plates must go back on. Alternatively, if the participant fails to complete the program as required by the Department of Public Safety, then the whiskey plates must go back on.

A failure of the interlock program occurs when a participant either has their driving privileges withdrawn, usually from violating the program rules or testing positive for alcohol, on two or more occasions. Or the participant violates the terms of their contract with the ignition interlock provider. But if a participant’s withdrawal is found to be an error by the Department of Public Safety or the interlock provider then it would not count.

If I currently have whiskey plates, can I remove them?

Unlike in other sections of the new laws, the Minnesota Legislature did not explicitly state when this new law will take effect. Equally as unclear is whether it applies to new impoundments or pre-existing impoundments. All the new laws just enacted either start July 1, 2021 or August 1, 2021 so there is reason to believe this new law has started immediately. In addition, the language used within the Special Registration Plate law points to the idea that anyone can apply to remove their whiskey plates, even if they put them on prior to this new law.

*Before removing any license plates from your vehicles, confirm with the DMV that you are legally allowed to do so. And, that any new plates put on are in good standing with the state.

Benjamin W. Koll is an associate attorney at Ambrose Law Firm, PLLC in Minneapolis and Woodbury, Minnesota. He graduated from Mitchell Hamline School of Law and clerked for a Ramsey County District Court Judge before joining the firm. Ben has obtained dismissals in numerous cases and is highly reviewed by previous clients. Woodbury DWI Lawyer; Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney; and Criminal Defense Lawyer Woodbury MN.

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